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Gender and sexual identification: Right and wrong?

Gender and sexual identification: Right and wrong?

Editor’s Note: 

The University News Editorial Board has decided to retract our Feb. 16 editorial entitled “Gender and Sexual Identification: Right and Wrong?” We would like to offer our sincere apologies to anyone who was hurt by the offensive nature of the piece.

The editorial was intended to be an exploration of the ways in which a society’s views on different behaviors and identities can change over time. In our initial discussion of the topic, we talked about how certain ideas that were once viewed as “deviant” or morally wrong have grown to be more accepted over time. We hypothesized about how this process could conceivably continue into the future, with ideas that we in the present might find unacceptable or even abhorrent, and discussed the merits by which society uses to judge these behaviors.

However, it is quite clear that the piece did not accurately convey these ideas. The examples we used to illustrate our points were poorly chosen, and the language and tone of the piece was highly inappropriate. Though the editorial was intended to provide only inquiries, and not any concrete political statements, we recognize that many of the issues we chose to discuss are of an extremely sensitive and personal nature, and that we did not treat these subjects with the tact and due diligence they deserve.

It was never our intention to equate same-sex attraction with pedophilia or bestiality. That is an unfortunate and politically fraught analogy that has been used, both historically and in the present day, to justify discrimination and violence towards members of underrepresented groups. The juxtaposition of these concepts was unintentional, but carelessly executed, and we apologize for even the slightest suggestion of equivalence.

But more importantly, our biggest and most egregious offense is the lack of inclusion of any LGBTQ+ individuals in this discussion. We realize that a group of mostly privileged, white, straight and cisgender college kids are not the best people to lead such a conversation.

We view this editorial, from the initial discussion to the decision to publish it, as extremely regrettable.

Many current and former students have written to us to express their disapproval of our editorial. In particular, a Facebook post by Free to be called us out for our ignorance and demanded we do better. This is a challenge that we have decided to take very seriously. Going forward, we will be looking to collaborate with more knowledgeable SLU organizations on how to best increase minority representation in the newspaper, as well as an increase of coverage about LGBTQ+ events and news. We will strive to be more inclusive and more receptive to your criticism. We assure you, this is not where the story ends.

As student journalists, our purpose was, as it is with everything we publish, to create a dialogue. In our attempt to do so, however, we have overstepped the bounds of rational discourse and strayed into territory in which we had no place to be. Now, in the spirit of creating an open and inclusive dialogue, we respectfully ask that the students of SLU forgive us for the ignorance in our speech, and grant us the opportunity to listen.


  1. What the hell??

  2. I read the article and thought it was coherent. A sort of reductio ad absurdum was used to make it’s point which may have irritated the GLBTQ community but it does not make the point any less valid. Cheers for having the guts to write the oped but not so much for the retraction. Why did you apologize for not having GLBTQ input? That’s what rebuttals are for.

  3. I have not seen your original editorial, so my comments are related specifically to this statement in your retraction. “It was never our intention to equate same-sex attraction with pedophilia or bestiality.”

    As a person who specializes in animal sexual abuse (bestiality) issues, here is why bestiality, pedophilia, and same-gender attraction are not at all the same thing.

    Bestiality has long meant cruel and depraved behavior, and has been adopted by the legal system as the term used most often to describe prohibited sex acts between a person and an animal. Bestiality, however, is not the same as zoophilia, which is the sexual attraction (not an act) of a person to an animal.

    Zoophilia (sexual attraction to animals) and pedophilia (sexual attraction to children) are two paraphilias (unusual sexual attractions) that – under certain conditions – can be diagnosed as mental health disorders. Homosexuality used to also be considered a paraphilia by the American Psychiatric Association, but the APA now recognizes same-gender attraction as a valid sexual orientation. If both partners can legally consent, and neither partner is significantly impaired by the relationship, it’s neither illegal nor unusual.

    One key reason pedophilia and bestiality are both illegal is that in both cases, the victim cannot give informed consent. This distinction is important because simple consent is often used to justify the behavior – “the six-year-old girl came onto me”; “my dog wants it when he sniffs my crotch”. Informed consent means that the sexual object (the child or the animal) not only agrees to the contact, but understands the ramifications of that agreement. As an example, I can offer a dog a treat and the dog will happily agree to take it. But what I know, that the dog doesn’t, is that my ultimate intention is to entice the dog to have sex with me. I have the ability to give informed consent, the dog does not.

    Thanks for writing the editorial as well as the clarification, and for allowing me to weigh in.

  4. I didn’t see the original, but keep in mind that pedophiles likely outnumber the LGBTQ crowd, so your retraction has likely offended more than your original piece.

    The original gay rights movement was largely supported by the boy lovers, but then in the 1990s the other gays stabbed them in the back. I can assure you that the boy lovers are not pleased with this turn of events, and neither are the girl lovers.

    And then there’s Newton’s Third Law of Motion….

    Perhaps it’s time you learned the facts: starting with the fact that pedophiles are less likely to sexually abuse children than non-pedophiles. The information is out there, if you are willing to look.

  5. Penny Weiss says:

    Perhaps the UNews needs to address issues of gender, sexuality, and sexual identity more regularly, to avoid such truly unfortunate messes. Were there a regular conversation, such an editorial would have been immediately obvious as out of line. We have many people with personal experience and/or professional expertise who can contribute more knowledgeably to the dialogue.

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